A RISE National Organiser shares their thoughts and ideas for the year ahead in 5 short points.
1 - Organise our neighbourhoods to defend ourselves economically and politically.
Over the course of 2018 we must strive to organise our neighbourhoods, build community networks and relationships with local groups to defend ourselves against the harshest aspects of the current political and economic system.
Whether defending a local library, preventing the sale of public land or overturning those who have been sanctioned. We must build the power of our neighbourhoods to not only defend these hard earned working class institutions, but to enable our communities to go on the attack winning must needed reforms and new publicly owned infrastructure.
We must rally round and resist the closure of every publicly owned facility, service or instituion. These lifelines are the hard earned reparations, won by millions of working class people who toiled for generations building the wealth of todays elite. Physical resistance cannot be ruled out but must be backed up and supported by extensive and engaged neighbourhood organisation.
2 - Win the Campaign for 150,000 publicly owned new homes.
With approximately 150,000 people on waiting lists for social housing and 40% of all households suffering from fuel poverty. Scotland faces a housing crisis. At the same time rents are steadily increasing, frequently ahead of inflation and ahead of average wage rises for tenants. This squeeze is increasing poverty, ill health and giving abusive landlords free reign to act outside the law.
All of this is adding to the extreme pressure put on our housing services already unable to cope, with more and more people being made homeless and even dying on the street (1 every week in Glasgow alone). We feel that in such extreme times, extreme measures must be taken.
We have done it before from 1945 to 1951 the UK government built 1.2 million publicly owned houses. This laid the groundwork for decades of improvement in people’s lives. We believe a similar house building programme can do the same again, lifting hundreds of thousands out of poverty and into prosperity.
An extensive house building scheme such as this would serve to stimulate our domestic economy, provide jobs and apprenticeships for thousands of young workers. Scotland has invested heavily on infrastructure projects to help business grow, now it’s time to invest in housing to help people grow.
3 - Expose and fight Land Banking through occupations and community ownership.
With local authorities forced to put public land up for sale as part of any development package, we believe that we must firstly fight to ensure public land stays in public hands. Across the country millions of pounds worth of privately owned land is deliberately left vacant to avoid paying tax whilst the value skyrockets. These derelict spaces have an immediate adverse effect on our communities and neighbourhoods.
In the growing fight to ensure that the continued aftermath of de-industrialisation is mitigated and in the fight to ensure growing automation has an emancipatory affect rather than an oppressive one, we must control and own our infrastructure. Vacant land, buildings and private property must be used to benefit neighbouring communities or handed over to those communities to do it themselves.
In 2018 we will be continuing our campaign by serving the worst offenders with a notice period, occupying strategic buildings and a wider use of the community empowerment act to highlight these issues, and to ensure power and control of our communities is rooted in our communities.
4 - Help to organise our workplaces through trade unions, to ensure increased job security, a shorter working week and an increase in wages.
This year we will continue to support and build trade union membership across the country. Our members are represented in nearly every major union, from workplace reps to seats on national bodies. Our members commit themselves fully to building trade union density and engagement within their workplaces and beyond.
We believe that organised, engaged, collective action through our unions can help build real economic power within our workplaces. This economic power will give everyone the best possible chance of achieving greater job security, a shorter working week and an increase in wages.
These 3 demands are the basic needs for any worker to improve their conditions and have the economic freedom to enjoy life that little bit more.
5 - Education and Agitation for an alternative to Capitalism and for an Independent Scotland.
We all have a duty to not only educate ourselves but also learn and share ideas, reimagine history and build a vision of what our society can and should look like. The Independence movement helped to engage and educate hundreds of thousands of people around the belief that Another Scotland is Possible. It is essential that we continue to learn and engage to build that very Scotland.
We are still in the the centenary of the ‘revolutionary decade’, from the Dublin lockout of 1913, the massive Glasgow rent strikes of 1915, to the Russian Revolutions of the early 19th century and our own ‘Red Clydeside’ era throughout this period including the infamous Battle of George square in 1919.
These are all examples of hidden working class history, What we learn from these struggles can provide harsh lessons for today, but also empower a confidence that these ideas are not alien concepts or abstract ideas that cannot and never have been won.